Ada pitchers Jordan Boone and Cale Russell refused to be blown away by the cold, blustery conditions — or by old rival McAlester for a third straight time — Friday at Shawnee’s venerable Memorial Park in their final pool play ontest at the Bill Tipton VII Tournament.
But some occasional wildness and three Ada errors managed to keep things interesting.
Boone limited McAlester — which had scored 28 runs in a a pair of run-rule victories over the Cougars earlier in the season — to three singles and one earned run over four innings, and Russell struck out three of the four hitters he faced in the fifth to help Ada to a wild 6-5 victory. But they also combined to hit four batters (three by Boone) and Boone walked three others, and those free passes combined with miscues on defense to produce four unearned runs and keep Buffaloes on the bases throughout the game.
“We’re hitting too many batters and putting too many guys on — giving away bases, basically,” Ada coach Ronny Johns said after seeing his club improve to 11-14 on the season. “That’s why the game was close. That’s been a trend for us lately, and we have to correct it before the playoffs.”
It was so windy that Boone twice had his cap blown off while he was on the mound. He battled through it, though, and, despite the walks and hit batters, turned in one of the best efforts by an Ada starting pitcher this year to give the Cougars — who lost, 11-3, to Class 5A No. Shawnee on Wednesday and 11-9 to 5A No. 9 Bishop McGuinness Thursday — their first victory of the tournament in what turned out to be their final pool play contest.
Because of heavy rains that soaked the field after Ada’s game Thursday, Friday’s games were moved back two and a half hours. As a result, the Cougars didn’t play their scheduled game against the OKC Broncos and wound up pool play at 1-2.
Boone allowed unearned runs in the second and third innings, and two of McAlester’s three runs in the fourth were also unearned. In each inning, though, the little lefty caused some of his own problems.
With Ada leading 2-0 and two outs in the bottom of the second, Boone hit Jon Barickman and saw him score on the first Cougar error in the game. In the second, Clint Barnett reached on a one-out error and came around to score on three wild pitches.
Ada’s lead had grown to 6-2 when Boone plunked McAlester eight- and nine-hole hitters Chad Aldridge and Garrett Brown (after getting two strikes on each of them) leading off the fourth, and Aldridge scored the first run in the inning when losing pitcher Carter Cumbie reached on another Cougar error.
Barnett then beat out a perfect bunt to the left side (just the Buffs’ second hit of the game) to load the bases, and Brown scored as Ada shortstop Easton Pingleton turned a slick 6-3 double play on Josh Donato’s ground ball up the middle.
Cleanup hitter Troy Meadows followed with a seeing-eye single to the left side to score Cumbie and make it a one-run game. Boone then walked Dakota Mize on a 3-2 pitch, but Russell (who started behind the plate) gunned down Donato attempting to advance to third on ball four to end the inning.
Russell relieved Boone to start the fifth and dominated the bottom of the McAlester lineup. He struck out Lane Brock looking at a fastball, hit Barickman with a 1-1 pitch, then struck out Aldridge looking at a breaking pitch before blowing a 2-2 fastball past Brown to end the game — which had a two-hour time limit — with Barickman standing at second base.
“Cale came in and did a good job for us,” Johns said. “They roughed him up a little bit at McAlester (in a 15-7 Buffs victory eight days earlier) and he was ready to get out there. He’s always had good days (at Shawnee, where he hit two home runs in the same tournament a year ago).”
While the Buffs scored a handful of ugly runs, the Cougars got theirs in more tradtional ways — and should have had more.
Boone led off the game with a sharp opposite-field single to left, advanced to second on Pingleton’s sacrifice and to third on Russell’s line-drive hit up the middle. Cody Johnson reached on the first of two McAlester errors in the game to plate Boone with the game’s first run. Cumbie walked Caleb Balch to load the bases and hit Scott Johnson with an 0-1 pitch to force in the second run in the inning before retiring Ryan Kinder on a fly ball to center to leave the bases loaded.
Russell and Cody Johnson started the Ada third with back-to-back doubles to make it 3-1, and a bloop single by Mason Girdley and Balch’s RBI groundout produced the fourth Ada run. Cumbie then gift-wrapped the Cougars’ third run in the inning, walking Scott Johnson, hitting Kinder with a pitch and walking Jackson Boone to load the bases ahead of Jordan Boone’s clutch RBI single to left.
The Cougars answered McAlester’s run in the bottom of the third with what proved to be the winning run in the top of the fourth.
Pingleton started that rally with a sharp first-pitch single to center, and two pitches later Russell lined his third hit of the game to left. Rusty Hoppe (running for Russell) was erased at second on a fielder’s choice, but a second straight fielder’s choice grounder — this one by Girdley — chased home Pingleton to make it 6-2.
Russell finished 3-for-3 to pace Ada’s eight hit attack, with all eight hits coming from the top five batters in the lineup. Jordan Boone was 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI, Pingletoin finished 1-for-2 with a run scored and a sacrifice, Cody Johnson was 1-for-3 and drove in two runs while scoring once, and Girdley was 1-for-3 with an RBI in the win.
Johns said he was happy with the way the Cougars — who had some tough luck in Wednesday’s loss and squandered a 9-3 lead against McGuinness — bounced back Friday against a McAlester team that had dominated them in their previous two meetings.
“That may have the worst wind we’ve played in, plus it was so chilly,” Johns noted. “I thought we handled the conditions pretty well.
“Again we gave away some runs, and we have to stop that trend,” he added. “But we went out and hit the ball well and competed well. We were snakebit a little bit the last couple of days, but we got over that today.”
Bishop McGuinness 11, Ada 9
Ada built a 9-5 lead after four innings, but the Cougars were shut out in their final three at-bats while McGuinness scored six unanswered runs.
Ada wiped out most of an early 4-0 deficit with a three-run rally in the bottom of the second and took the lead with three more runs in the third. Scott Johnson drove in the first run in the second-inning outburst with a single, Balch scored the second on a passed ball, and Jordan Boone plated Johnson with a sacrifice fly.
In the second, consecutive singles by Russell, Cody Johnson and Girdley produced the tying run, and Girdley sored the go-ahead run on a one-out single by Kinder.
After McGuinness scored a run in the top of the fourth, Ada answered with three runs in the bottom of that inning on RBI singles by Cody Johnson, Balch and Scott Johnson. But that was it for the Ada offense, which didn’t record a hit over the final three innings.
Girdley, Kinder and Cody Johnson had two hits apiece for the Cougars, who, like McGuinness, finished with nine hits.